Monday, June 18, 2018

Capernaum, The Town of Jesus

View of the Synagogue.
Nestled along the northern banks of the Sea of Tiberias (Sea of Galilee), surrounded by plush greenery and magnificent hanging flowers, lies the ancient ruins of the small fishing village Capernaum. Known by many simply as "The Town of Jesus." Unlike some other Biblical sites in Israel, Capernaum has not been turned "touristy." It is still a quiet village, perhaps like it also stood in the 2nd century BC when it was founded. Down through the centuries the highest population to inhabit this village was around 1,500 people.

This seemingly insignificant fishing village, was where Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry, a great deal of his healing ministry, and also the home of some of his favorite disciples: Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew the tax collector.

Courtyard in the 4th Century Synagogue.
After Jesus left Nazareth, it would seem he selected Capernaum to be the main center of his ministry referred to in Matthew 9:1 as "his own city." All four gospels record accounts of the miraculous miracles, healing miracles performed by Jesus. It was here Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law of a fever (Luke 4:38-39), the paraplegic that was lowered through the roof to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12), and the healing of the Roman Centurion who asked for his help (Luke 7:1-10).  The first chapter of Mark accounts that Jesus healed many people with various diseases and cast out many demons, which Mark says Jesus did not allow to speak because they knew who he was.

It was also in Capernaum where Jesus, while teaching on the Sabbath in the Synagogue, healed a man possessed by a demon (Mark 1:21-28). The people were amazed wondering what is this teaching with new authority? And it was after this, Jesus fame spread throughout all of Galilee.

Today you can wander amicably among the ancient ruins, many
made of the beautiful basalt stone common to this region by the Sea. There were two synagogues discovered in Capernaum built, the Synagogue from the 4th century AD built on top of the remains of the Synagogue Jesus would have taught. You can visit the 4th century Synagogue and see remains of the other underneath. This is a wonderful place to rest for a while and open scripture. Read aloud some of the many miracles Jesus performed here, and envision the masses of people crowding around the door to hear his preaching and find healing. It
Remains of Peter's House.
is quite easy to sit in the ancient synagogue of Capernaum and reflect on all the ways Jesus has healed you personally.

A house which was turned into a church by the Byzantines has also been discovered here and was built over what is believed to be the home of the Apostle Peter.  Notably, there are also multiple grain and oil mills, a cemetery, and the remains of a harbor excavated over the years.

Excavations at Capernaum of the village.
After spending time in this beautiful village, one can't help but wonder about the lack of faith in Jesus as the Messiah by the people in this town, after all the mighty miracles they witnessed. Jesus cursed Capernaum in Matthew 11:23-24 when he said they would be brought down to "Hades." "For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than you."

Capernaum in Galilee is a regular stop on our Holy Land tours when you book with Beyond Bethany.

By: Nannette Cropsey